In keeping with its support for President Bashar al-Assad, Russia has refused to back a tougher UN draft resolution on Syria.
The proposal, which would allow the Security Council to impose more economic and diplomatic sanctions and even authorise military intervention, was circulated by Britain and is backed by the United States, Germany and France.
This latest wrangling comes as Syrian authorities carry out an operation in Damascus to strike against the rebels.
However, opposition forces may be cheered by Wednesday’s defection of a top level diplomat who is the most significant figure to turn against the regime. Nawaf al-Fares was Syria’s ambassador to Iraq.